Frankfurt’s international talent pool reaching new depths

In the wake of the UK Brexit decision, it’s now evident that many financial service providers will be relocating their EU locations from London to Frankfurt. In purely practical terms, this means that many people are facing having to move from the Thames to the Main during the foreseeable future. This impending change is not without impact on the general mood in the sector.

Christopher Schmitz, Partner at Ernst & Young (EY)

“In our discussions with those affected, we sense that relocation first and foremost means uncertainty,” says, for example, Christopher Schmitz, a partner at the international Ernst & Young (EY) consultancy with responsibility for Financial Services. “After all, London was deliberately chosen at the time, and people have also felt at home there in many ways over a number of years. A transfer to other European locations is now on the agenda – and this involves a switch into a different language environment, culture and living situation, and lots of other changes besides.

The multicultural scene is maturing

While EU and UK representatives are busy discussing the rights of millions of EU citizens in the UK and vice versa as part of the Brexit negotiations, companies like EY are registering a steady increase in the number of unsolicited applications from London in the direction of Frankfurt. The reasons for this are manifold.

“In terms of the quality of life, Frankfurt has a standing that is by no means worse than other European metropolitan centres,” Schmitz contends. The Rhine-Main region, with its central location in Germany, can boast an excellent transport infrastructure along with an efficient international airport. The attractive countryside in the immediate surroundings and the city itself with its full spectrum of cultural offers are also impressive arguments. “Frankfurt is already today a melting pot of multicultural influences, enriched by the fast-growing international communities from the IT and banking industries that are resident here,” as Schmitz points out.

“Secondary effects of the influx are likely throughout the region, such as the growth of purchasing power, overnight stays and tax revenues.”

A glance at the portfolio of applicants who want to live and work in Frankfurt reveals a surprising picture. It’s not necessarily just the citizens of European countries who are choosing the Rhine-Main region as a location. Instead, highly qualified candidates from other nationalities are also sending their applications from London.

“With the EU Blue Card, i.e. the EU-wide work permit, Frankfurt promises freedom of travel and work throughout the EU – something that a UK work visa may no longer be able to offer after the Brexit,” as Schmitz explains the current situation. Indeed, according to the Orbis database, the number of Indians with a Blue Card in Frankfurt has already risen by 566 percent between 2013 and 2016, while the average increase in Germany as a whole amounted to a mere 80 percent.

Frankfurt is a favoured destination for Indian specialists

Generally speaking, the city on the Main is a favoured destination for Indian specialists in particular. Also looking at the period between 2013 and 2016, Frankfurt recorded a rise in its Indian population of 4,720 residents or 37 percent. In comparison, the overall influx of other nationalities increased by only 14 percent.

Schmitz sees this trend as offering the chance to profit from talent pools to which the city previously had no or only limited access: “Frankfurt can establish itself as a location for international talent and therefore also become interesting for further employers, for example those from the tech sector,” the expert from EY insists. He sees the financial services sector as the main beneficiary of this development, but he also stresses the secondary effects of the influx, such as the likely growth of purchasing power, overnight stays and tax revenues throughout the region.

“With the EU Blue Card, i.e. the EU-wide work permit, Frankfurt promises freedom of travel and work throughout the EU.”

Nevertheless, despite all its positive effects, so many people moving into the city region is also a challenge. It is vital to work on achieving an effective integration. According to Schmitz, proficiency in the German language will help ensure this in the long term, but the availability of places at international schools for the children of international employees and sufficient living space are also important contributing factors. “What’s more, the politicians and the business community could, for example, also provide a Welcome Package with information on the region or offer concessionary fares for local public transport during the first few months. Equally helpful might be a multilingual care and support service for new arrivals in Frankfurt or the provision of administrative assistance in making applications, such as for the Blue Card,” as Schmitz also suggests.

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